The Nintendo Switch Pro has been the subject of rumor, speculation, and daydreams for over a year now, and with Nintendo's E3 2021 showcase happening on Tuesday, June 15, chances are high this could be when we finally find out about the 4K version of the hit handheld.
The latest news suggests we could see the new console before the end of 2021, in time for the all-important gift-buying season, but with many companies still dealing with delays and component issues caused by that whole global pandemic thing, we'd advise waiting for word from Nintendo before clearing a space on your gaming desk.
It's easy to imagine an upgrade to the Nintendo Switch, a console loved by casuals and hardcore alike. A sharper screen, a bigger screen, better battery life, and Joy-Cons that aren't cursed with drift. Combining tips from leakers and all the information our internet sleuths could find, here's everything we know so far about the rumored Nintendo Switch Pro.
What is the Nintendo Switch Pro?
The Nintendo Switch Pro is currently the name being used to describe the rumoured mid-lifecycle console refresh for the Nintendo Switch.
Rumours so far suggest it will feature the following Nintendo Switch Pro specs:
- 4K Dock
- Larger, full 1080p Switch display
- Increased battery life
What Nintendo Switch Pro rumors have there been?
Rumors started circulating about the Nintendo Switch Pro back in early 2019. The Wall Street Journal reported on the matter citing “parts suppliers and software developers for Nintendo” in March 2019, saying that the company was working on two new Switch models. The first was a “cheaper option for casual gamers”, which sounds very much like the Switch Lite we saw that same year, but the other outlined a more powerful, full HD Switch model aimed at the more hardcore market. And the gossip hasn't stopped since.
Recent rumors included a Wcctech report where a dataminer found signs of this in the Switch’s firmware code. "The tablet itself definitely has an upgraded display,” dataminer SciresM mentions, adding that the new hardware is codenamed Aula. “I don't know if it's 4K. Aula has firmware support, some Realtek chip that advertises itself as a ‘4K UHD multimedia SoC’ too, hence my belief it's 4K.”
As the dataminer clarifies afterward, it’s unsure whether this is related to the console’s chip or the dock itself. It would make more sense to see this in the dock itself, such as how the Switch currently supports resolutions higher than its native 720p HD display when docked compared to handheld mode, but there’s no certainty for the time being.
Back in August 2020, Bloomberg claimed that Nintendo was investigating a new Switch model that has not only 4K “high-definition graphics” but also more computing power. But it was in October when a report from Economic Daily News hinted that the Nintendo Switch Pro could feature Mini-LED technology, manufactured by Innolux Corporation. As well as reflecting the push towards higher resolutions, it could also lead to increased battery life, as well as improvements in the screen’s brightness and contrast, compared to the current LCD display.
In March 2021, Bloombergreported that we could see a new 4K Switch with an OLED screen sometime before the holidays. Apparently, Nintendo called on the Samsung Display Co. to produce seven-inch, 720p-resolution OLED panels in preparation for a Christmas launch. With four years since the launch of the original, the timing feels right for an upgrade.
In May of this year, a listing for "New Nintendo Switch Pro" reportedly popped up on Amazon Mexico, but we've seen retailers jump the gun with placeholder listings before. More exciting is the news from earlier this month, via the vast rumor mills of Twitter, that we will see the new Nintendo Switch Pro at E3, and we'll be able to pre-order it too.
What has Nintendo said about a Switch Pro?
So far, there haven't been any official indications that Nintendo is ready to go next-gen, or indeed launch any kind of Nintendo Switch Pro just yet.
However, in a Polygon interview back in December, Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser talked about how the company is always looking at technology, how it evolves and changes over time, from which upon they can start asking themselves how they can enhance and improve the gameplay experience. “And whether that’s on a current platform,” Bowser adds, “or whether that's on a future platform, we’re always looking at that.” But he also calls the momentum on the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite fourth year “strong”, and mentions that they will “continue, for the foreseeable future, to really lean into both of those platforms and the content that comes with it.”
Interestingly though, speaking to Polygon in a recent interview, Bowser said that "we believe we’re just at the midpoint of this life cycle on this platform" when asked about the possibility of an upgraded Nintendo Switch model. Time for an enhanced model then?
Who knows what awaits for Nintendo in 2021. Now that the next-gen PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles are out in the wild (not without their shortage of stock, mind), it seems like the opportunity to unveil the future for the Switch.
As the year is only starting, it seems like it’s only a matter of time until we finally have some more information about the Nintendo Switch Pro. But if the Nintendo 2DS and Nintendo 3DS have shown anything in the past, we can expect to see even more iterations of Nintendo’s hybrid console.